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Home Improvement Guide 2007
Get ready
Before starting any home improvement project, research and planning is the key to successful results.
Remodeling costs depend on your location

How much is that kitchen remodel going to cost you? That all depends on your address.

Labor costs, fuel costs and even product costs can vary by region -- sometimes widely. So homeowners in different parts of the country can hire similar professionals to complete essentially the same remodeling project and see very different bills.

Want to put a new roof on your home? In the Pacific region (California, Oregon, Washington, Hawaii and Alaska), a top-of-the-line treatment will average roughly $28,884, according to Remodeling magazine's 2006 Cost vs. Value report. But in the West South Central region (Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana and Arkansas), the same project averages $19,759. The national average for the job is $24,693.

How about adding a master suite? In that same Texas-Oklahoma-Louisiana-Arkansas area, you'll pay an average of $84,411, according to Remodeling. But Pacific Coast residents pay 31 percent more -- with an average cost of $111,157. The national average is $94,331.

And if you think regional differences are sharp, the divide between urban and rural can be just as marked. Even in the same area of the country, a difference of 50 miles can send your remodeling bill up or down significantly. A big reason for that: differences in the cost of labor.

In the California's Bay Area, labor costs "are some of the highest in the U.S.," says Paul Winans, past president of the National Association of the Remodeling Industry, and president of Oakland, Calif.-based Winans Construction Inc. And those costs are comparable with major metro areas such as Washington, D.C., and New York, he says.

But drive east 10 miles and labor costs drop 25 percent to 30 percent, says Winans. And head into the valley, into cities such as Stockton, Modesto, and Fresno, Calif., and labor costs are 50 percent cheaper than in the San Francisco area, he says.

"The more rural you get, just about anywhere, the less expensive it's going to be," says Winans.

And while the cost of supplies will fluctuate, depending on the region or area, that's not the major factor in price differences, he says.

"Lumber will vary regionally, but not that much," Winans says.  Labor is "the biggest variable."

Regional differences
In the South and the West, "Remodeling is poised to take off," says Winans. Both areas have an abundance of tract homes from the 1960s, '70s and early '80s that are beginning to age. Not only are systems such as roofs, water heaters, windows and siding getting overhauls, but homeowners are also opting to reconfigure rooms and floor plans to fit changing tastes and lifestyles.

-- Posted: April 4, 2007
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